"I was feeling pretty good about everything so I just made stuff that made me happy." So said frontman Dylan Baldi of Here and Nowhere Else, the new LP from Ohio fuzz-poppers Cloud Nothings. On first listening to the album, though, one has to wonder what sort of tunes Baldi turns out on a bad day: Pharrell this ain’t.
After Cloud Nothings’ brooding, Slint-nodding 2011 breakthrough, Attack on Memory, Here and Nowhere Else brings things back to the band’s frayed, lo-fi essence—the sound of the time when Baldi was nothing but a box-bedroom solo artist with a truckload of pent-up problems, a cracked copy of GarageBand and a dream.
Like their debut album Turning On, Here and Nowhere Else is a litany of middle-American, outcast-teen neuroses set to a hardcore guitar churn, diuretic bass lines and Ritalin-addled drum fills. "Psychic Trauma" laments the resurgence of long-past anguish, while the scuzzy bass and winding guitar lines of "Pattern Walks" fuel a full-throttle, seven-minute musical mental breakdown.
But there are some definite glimpses of sunshine amid the teeny doom. Baldi is a master of the catchy angsthem, and the pop-punk-inflected hook of "No Thoughts"raises it above the merely maudlin. Even as he snarls "You’re born; you’re gone" over the outro it feels strangely life-affirming.
Listening to Here and Nowhere Else might make Baldi’s mates a bit worried for his state of mind – but having produced yet another infectious, rollicking slice of Midwestern alt rock, he certainly has plenty to smile about.